Majority Democrats in Congress are maintaining their sharp criticism of
President Bush and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, amid
continuing nervousness in U.S. and global financial markets. VOA's Dan
Robinson reports from Capitol Hill on steps being taken in the House of
Representatives and the Senate to deal with the economic crisis.
In two news conferences within 24 hours, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats unleashed a torrent of criticism, deriding what they call presidential mismanagement of economic and financial affairs during George Bush's two terms in office.
After blasting President Bush on Wednesday, Pelosi did the same on Thursday, and criticized Senator John McCain. "These failed policies are the policies of George Bush and they are subscribed to by John McCain. The failure of the Republicans to responsibly regulate and provide adequate oversight, that has allowed for this 'anything goes' system on Wall Street," he said.
At the White House, President Bush said he recognizes American's concerns and that he is closely monitoring the situation. "As our recent actions demonstrate, my administration is focused on meeting these challenges. The American people can be sure we will continue to act to strengthen and stabilize our financial market sand improve investor confidence," Mr. Bush said.
House Speaker Pelosi responded by saying the president had, in her words, "come out of hiding" to say very little. She suggested that the president should apologize to Americans for the financial turmoil.
Democrats and Republicans have complained about not being informed in advance of government interventions in the economic crisis. And they have expressed concerns about the extent of federal actions, such as the $85 billion central bank rescue of the American International Group [AIG] insurance company.
"I frankly was somewhat disappointed that I hadn't heard from anybody. They had been working on this for several days. I hadn't heard a word from anyone," said Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid.
"You can talk to [Treasury] Secretary Paulson or [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernake about why they proceeded in this direction. But I am concerned about taxpayer's funds being put at risk. It is something that should concern all of us," said House Republican Leader, John Boehner.
While Democrats intend to adjourn Congress next week so lawmakers can prepare for the November general elections, U.S. financial officials are scheduled to testify before at least five House and Senate panels.
"Our committee is going to hold hearings on how we got to this position, what kind of regulations were we supposed to have had to keep the markets working, to make sure we didn't allow the financial excesses that have brought us to this point?," said Henry Waxman, Chariman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"The fundamental issue is we have got to put an end to this situation in which there is no sensible regulation, and irresponsible individuals in the private market, or unwise individuals in the private market can incur the kind of risks that put us in a threatening situation," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank.
On the Senate floor Thursday, New York's Charles Schumer unveiled what he called a "comprehensive proposal" aimed at calming Wall Street financial markets -- this as the Dow Jones industrial average recovered 400 points, after major losses earlier in the week.
Asked whether the financial crisis might force Democrats to revise their plans to adjourn Congress next week, House Speaker Pelosi pointed to the hearings, saying lawmakers can always be called back into session, if there is a need.
Senate Democratic leader Reid took the same approach. He said he intends to hold the Senate in a standby pro forma session mode in coming months to deal with any actions that might be required.